A day with the tiger

Travel blogger Laxmi Sarath enjoys a wildlife safari in Corbett

It is 4 am in the morning and the eyes are still getting used to the darkness around. An icy breeze tugs at you, awakening the silent waters of the River Kosi flowing through close by our resort. Standing on the banks of the river, I watch the moonlit ridges of the mountains, towering above, almost touching the jeweled sky. While some of my fellow travelers are star gazing, a few are attempting night photography. I , for one am just lost in the silence. The summons arrive on the mobile and we are hurriedly on our way to keep up our date with the tiger in the forests of Corbett. It is our second attempt out there to meet the most coveted denizen of the jungle, having spent an entire day in the wilds.

Today, however as we board our jeeps, there is a feeling of hope. It is an auspicious moment, as the Bijrani Gate of the Jim Corbett National Park is to be opened today, after the monsoons. The other gates, I am told are still closed.

As we drive away in the darkness, hoping for an encounter, we have no idea what is in store for us. Dawn breaks as we drive through the gates into the forest. The sunlight filters through the tall sal trees as we drive along the safari route of this deciduous forests, squinting through the dense foliage. The naturalist in our group Karthikeyan Srinivasan keeps us engaged , spotting birds , spiders and small mammals. Corbett he says has about 600 species of birds, of the 1200 recorded in India. We spot a mongoose, while our friends see the rare yellow throated marten ,besides langurs and deer . But then the tiger, probably having spotted the jeep load of tourists, has again moved on , leaving its footprints on the sands of time. As we head back, the birders in our group are happy , but the tiger tourists are a tad disappointed. However, I am sure, I will get a glimpse of this “large hearted gentleman” as our naturalist describes the tiger, someday in the forests.